This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Indie/Self Published
Released on December 30, 2019
A simple kind gesture for a third grade class project lands their teacher and a lonely navy commander with their very own old-fashioned penpals. This gently-paced, heartwarming old-style correspondence courtship was a touching change of pace.
Ship to Shore begins with Maggie mailing off her class’ letter project and batch of cookies to a military service organization right before Thanksgiving while fending off her mother’s remarks about her being a disappointment even while pushing yet another possible date at her from her mother’s circle. Maggie enjoys being a teacher and is in no rush to get married until she finds the right guy. In the meantime, she figures it can do no harm writing back to the nice sailor who wrote to thank her and her class for the package.
Lt. Commander Hawkins is touched by the nice lonely old lady teacher who wants to be penpals and he agrees. It is not long before he realizes his penpal is not so old and rather sweet. Hawkins finds her easy to write his thoughts and feelings to about his sister cutting him off because he warned her about the man she was marrying, about his dad’s stubbornness and failing health, and to tease her about her guesses over his first name.
Maggie finds Hawkins just as easy a corresponding partner and tells him about her beloved sister’s jerk boyfriend and her desire to make him history along with all the inner dynamics of her large family.
Months go by and their steady correspondence leads to more. Its time to meet and decide if the person in the letters is the same in person. If so, what comes next?
Ship to Shore was light and sweet, but endearing. The building relationship in the letters developed slowly as friends that the pair never realized was becoming more because it was such a gradual thing. You don’t see this type of true slow burn these days and I found it adorable and refreshing. It was utterly believable and enchanting as a result. It felt cozy and oh so adorable.
Now, did it lag at times? Sure. And, was it too low-angst when it comes to conflict? For many it will be. There was just enough external conflict for each of them separately and they did stand the test of time and distance without seeing each other so I had no boredom issues. It was actually a nice change of pace to read about two adults communicating and behaving with maturity.
I did find it funny that the biggest explosions of conflict were not between the couple. There were two and both involved Maggie and other people. She might seem like a cuddly little grade school teacher, but when it involved people interfering with Hawkins, she turns into a bear. He is one lucky guy and he knows it. Unlike half her family, Hawkins appreciates the beautiful, talented woman just as she is.
The story went back and forth between Maggie and Hawkins as narrators though Maggie does get the bulk of the narration. I enjoyed getting to know them as people through their letters and reactions to each other’s letters. Maggie had her sister Sarah cautioning her about writing to a stranger and Hawkins had his navy pal, Davis, teasing him and tickled pink that he was writing Maggie. Now, that would be a fun story between Sarah and Davis.
I think my only real quibble was that I felt the ending just kind of stopped without the feeling of a true wrap up. It’s not that an of the major points were left unresolved, but I was expecting a little more.
Besides the romance which was assuredly friends to lovers with a great deal of time on the friends side, the emphasis on family was strong which I loved. Maggie’s relationship with her family and Hawkins with his were strong elements. Issues with some family members staying wide open were part of what left me mildly disappointed in the ending. Though, it was true to life that some issues in families never resolve.
All in all, I think it was a fabulous low-key character-driven romance. I’ve been wishing to try a full length story from this author and was well-pleased with this one and can’t wait to pick up more from her backlist. I would recommend this story to those who enjoy sweet, slowburn, and low-angst contemporary romance.
Extra Story: Swap Meet
Fun short romcom when the Bennet sisters and their dates meet and decide a swap might be in order. Fabulous character development and flirty chemistry!
My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Literary Pickers #47 Japan
Romanceopoly #20 Library (free choice)
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